Shoppers prefer the human touch rather than sophisticated retailer technology such as automated checkouts and AI, according to new findings.
A new survey from Gekko found that 77% of Brits said they want to speak to a human being rather than a self-service check-out or automated voice recording.
Over 80% claimed that the personal touch has disappeared from customer service in modern Britain with almost a third blaming an over-reliance on technology for this decline.
The study showed the average shopper believes they waste an average of 1.5 hours a month interacting with poorly functioning automated technology, only for a human to have to step in and help anyway.
The biggest customer service bugbear to emerge from the poll of shoppers was having to get someone to come and rectify a problem with the self-service checkout followed by ringing customer services and dealing with a recorded voice, only to have repeat all the details to the person you end up talking to.
Over 50% of Brits said they had “slammed the phone down in fury” during an automated call, as the system didn’t recognise what they were saying.
Just over 45% said they have had their self-service checkout procedure halted so that a human shop assistant could progress it, which has led to a frustrated 18% shouting at a self-service checkout.
Following a hugely successful Small Business Saturday 2018, Business Advice sat down with the initiative’s founder to hear her thoughts on the future of independent retail, and why discount days like Black Friday won’t save small high street businesses.
Most shoppers said they would prefer to deal directly with someone when making a complaint, 59% would rather speak to a person to find out more information about a product, and 73% prefer dealing with a human when trying to get a refund.
A third of Brits said they were more likely to buy again from a shop if they’ve received the personal touch, and more than a fifth claim they always spend more money in a shop if they are served by a good assistant.
Just under half of Brits have had their screen freeze while trying to make an online purchase, with almost a quarter ending up having to complain on social media when their query hasn’t been responded to adequately via the automated service.
Daniel Todaro, MD of Gekko said: “Everyone is talking about technology and innovation within retail, but our research clearly shows that what consumers really want is the human touch.”
Only 30% of those polled said they would like to see ‘smart pricing’ initiatives adopted by retailers, where prices change in real time depending on demand, just 22% would like smart mirrors that show a 360 view of themselves, and a mere 14% think augmented reality would help visualise products in the home.
And, while 9% say they’d enjoy being served by talking robots in store, 27% agreed that they’d feel really uncomfortable having a conversation with a robot or AI device.
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